Zombie games are nothing new of course. The walking dead are one of the typical ‘spices’ you can find in a lot of gaming. Partially, this is because zombies are visually striking and very interesting, and also because if your game is about beating things up then shambling corpses make great villains. Given the success of games like Zombicide, you may be wondering what new things Z War One brings to the table.
The simple answer is in the detail. From the lovingly sculpted models to the thick and chunky board game components, Z War One feels like an artisan take on the genre. This extends to the rules and the setting. The rules are in involved and pretty detailed; this is a game in which you’ll be tracking ammo. You have to pick your heroes carefully for each scenario and we are encouraged to become invested in the heroes. The game provides extensive backstory, including a very detailed comic book. The comic strip elements are lovely, though we sort of wish they were in a separate book. The art does make the simple rulebook look chunky. The extensive storytelling also makes it tricky to navigate the book, but the atmosphere of this game is one of its selling points, so you can’t have it all.
The vibe of the game is the thing that makes this really work. These is not a 'high-speed roll and forget' game, it’s a more considered horror adventure. The game has two modes; the basic mode is all the players against a set scenario. The party has to work together to achieve some sort of target without getting horribly murdered by the walking dead. The second mode is more interesting. In Director mode, one player controls the zombies. They have a set of action cards that allows changing and influencing the movement and generation of the dead. The director can also cause calamity to befall the players. Desperately scrambling around for that infection cure? The Director has a card that will make it harder, and so on.
Z WAR ONE – DAMNATION / DESIGNER ROBERT BUTLER / ARTIST: BEN MILNES / PUBLISHER: DICE SPORTS / RELEASE DATE: JULY